Sunday, July 30, 2006

Three One Two, Carlton

Mrs Jones has been replaced by a number. She is now called Three One Two, after her Drummond Street address, Tel +61 3 9347 3312. And she's had a face lift. I particularly like the splash of military-issue cammo netting hanging in the front window. Extra protection just in case Hezbollah start launching drive-by rocket attacks from Lygon Street.

312 pork banger

Food-wise, it's steady as she goes in the McConnell kitchen. The weekend brunch menu is very much Circa, Reloaded. The trusty smoked salmon and cream cheese croque monsieur. The scrambled eggs with truss tomatoes and skewer of bacon. Doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce. House made crumpets with clover honey.

I decided to try something new, so I took a punt on the pork sausage with white bean and tomato braise. Sounds fancy, doesn't it? Much fancier than beans and bangers on toast. And very nice it was, too. Especially the sesame crusted multi-grain toast, from Baker D. Chirico in St Kilda apparently. You only get one sausage, but I doubt you'll walk away hungry.

Perhaps the most unusual dish on offer at 312 was the prawn and sorrel omelette with green sauce. Prawns for breakfast. Hmmm...

17/20 "prawn omelette"


Eggs & Bacon $16.00 BB100 +60%

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Henkel's Hangover Cure

Last night I knocked back a couple of frothies. Or maybe a couple of dozen frothies, but who's counting? This morning I awoke feeling just a teeny bit fragile. And craving a serious fry up. So it was off to Greasy Joe's for a plate of their finest grease.

If you happen to find yourself in a similar state, I can highly recommend Henkel's breakfast. You get a generous serve of bacon, sausages, beans and eggs on toast, with a nice pile of crispy fries on the side. The beans may have come fresh from the can, but I still enjoyed dunking my chips in the bean juice and scoffing it all down. This is a must-try venue for Russell Davies if he ever makes it to Melbourne. I now have a new appreciation for his beloved egg, bacon chips and beans combo. GJ's does a good Virgin Mary, too. Plenty of horseradish. Mmmm...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Gattica, Balaclava

If the Las Chicas queue is too long (which, let's face it, is quite often the case), Gattica makes a reasonable plan B, a short stroll down Carlisle Street, heading East. Slightly less cramped than LC, it's got a reasonable buzz, and nice comfy banquette seating with lots of spongey cushions. Seemed a bit 70's to me. I could have been sitting here, 30 years back, feeling snug and cosy in my brown cords and green skivvy.

These days, if there's a corn fritter on the menu, I have a hard time ordering anything else. Today was no exception. And there was a bonus. There, on top of the fritters... two fried eggs. It turned out to be quite a monster dish. The fritters were so fat and heavy with batter that I would be more inclined to call them pancakes with corn. Even so, they were pretty good, and with crispy bacon and a mild spicy relish, the whole dish worked well.

Also good was the eggs benny, which the Precious One ordered with salmon and spinach. Best of all was the hash brown side, which, although greasy, was really quite delicious. Fat wedges of house made hash browns... crispy on the outside, soft in the middle. Yum.

Coffee, service and value are all good, with some bargain dishes like porridge at $6.50 (which porridge boy has rated pretty highly). A weak link, however, is the tea. Precious almost choked when she discovered a filthy little tea bag inside her pot. Outrage.

15/20 "nice hash"


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Atomica, Fitzroy

Atomica is a strange name for a Brunswick Street cafe. I would have thought the Fitzroy crowd would be happier if the place was called "Windmills" or "Solar" or something less radioactive. But it seems the coffee is so good that the locals are willing to turn a blind eye to a bit of pro-nuke subliminal advertising. Good coffee will do that to you. And this place does seriously good coffee. The froth on my cappucino was silky smooth.


The eggs are good too. I was very happy with my benedict on bagel with a side of sauteed spinach. Eggs poached just right, bacon crispy but not burnt, and nice toasty bagel to give the dish some crunch. Another item to catch my eye was the three cheese omelette, with feta, mozzarella and parmesan, served on toasted sourdough. Have't seen one of those before and it sounded pretty good.

If you're the experimental type, you could have some fun with the Atomica pancakes. You get pancakes with maple syrup, plus any two of banana, bacon, natural yoghurt, berry compote, berry yoghurt, and fresh fruit. How does bacon and berry yoghurt sound? Molecular gastronomy for breakfast.

15/20 "nice coffee"


Eggs & Bacon $9.50 BB100 -5%

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Sequoia, Woodend

As anyone who's seen Wolf Creek will tell you, it's not safe to stray too far from an Australian city. Make no mistake. There are cities, and there's the outback. And in the outback you're a fair chance of being chopped into little pieces by a crazy psycho serial killer. So this morning, my heart pounding with fear, I threw caution to the wind and set off on the 67 km drive North of Melbourne to have breakfast at Sequoia, 84-88 High Street, Woodend, Tel +61 3 5427 2442. That's right, I cheated death, and did breakfast in regional Australia. What a rush.

At first, the slick fit-out, warming fire and welcoming staff took my mind off the dangers that lurked outside. I forgot for a moment that several innocent young maidens had mysteriously disappeared from these parts way back in 1900, as depicted in Peter Weir's 1975 serial killer flick 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'. But not for long...

There, on the menu, was a Croque Monsieur.

The same day that Ivan Milat gets his sandwich-toaster back, Sequoia serves up a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. Sick bastards.

"I'll have the poached eggs with hollandaise, bacon and mushrooms, please..."

You don't scare me.

The "goldfields" eggs were very good, and the hollandaise was tasty, if a bit thin and runny. Nice mushies and bacon too. The Precious One had a goat's cheese and spinach frittata, which she enjoyed, although both her meal and mine were quite small.

If you're brave enough to risk the trip, you'll get very good service and coffee (Grinders), good value (nothing over $10) and nice sourdough toast. But you won't get much choice. No pancakes, fruit or cereal the day we were there.

15/20 "cereal killers"


Breakfast & Beer

What more do you need in life? Breakfast and beer. Finally, a cafe that devotes itself only to these two earthly pleasures. Unfortunately, you have to drive all the way to Daylesford to check it out. I arrived too late for breakfast, so I can't comment on the quality of their eggs. But I can tell you the place is on the market, if you're having a mid-life crisis or something and feel like running a country cafe.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Babble on Babylon, Elwood

Fancy some saltfish with your fried plantain and Johnny cakes? Head for Babble on Babylon, 85 Brighton Road, Elwood, Tel +61 3 9531 4211. And don't be put off by the funny names. A Johnny cake is not something fished from the prime ministerial toilet. It's some kind of fried bread bun thing. Toast, Jamaican style.

jamaican eggs

I wasn't really in the mood for hard poached eggs with Ackee and saltfish, so I ordered Jamaican scrambled eggs on toast with bacon, beans and avocado. It was very enjoyable but quite hot, with a decent hit of curry powder and chili. The bacon was well-fried and the beans were tasty and slightly sweet.

The fussy one wasn't quite so happy. Indeed, she created something of a crisis in the Babble kitchen by asking for scrambled eggs with butter but no milk or cream. First the waitress, then her boss, attempted to negotiate this special order, with several rounds of shuttle diplomacy between our table and the kitchen. But a deal was not to be done. The outcome? One serve of fried eggs, and one disgruntled diner.

I must say I was impressed by the efforts of the front-of-house staff to broker a peace deal. But the refusal to scramble two eggs in some butter is the kind of precious behaviour that gives a chef a bad name.

The Babble menu is anything but boring. Apart from all the Jamaican stuff, there's French toast, American pancakes, Indian river bread, and a Moroccon breakfast of yoghurt with figs, orange and almonds. The porridge and poached Winter fruits were both good, and the "Provencale" sounded good (scrambled eggs with goat's cheese, oven-dried tomatoes and basil on toast). On weekends, you can also get Benedict and his cousins (Florentine and Royale), although I can't comment on the quality of the hollandaise.

The Illy coffee was excellent.

15/20 "Johnny cakes"


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Red Box, Brunswick

I received a tip-off from Dave, that his mate Steve does a nice plate of eggs at Red Box, 317 Sydney Road, Brunswick, Tel +61 3 9387 8699. Which means that Steve (if he happens to be an Ali G fan), can preface everything he says with the famous words "Me mate Dave reckons... blah blah blah..." This morning, for example, he could brag that "Me mate Dave reckons me does da best skotch eggs in da whole of West Staines, innit." That's right, Scotch eggs. Respekt.

But not everyone is a fan of Ali G. Some Americans, for example, don't find him funny at all. Just cheap laughs at the expense of nice, unsuspecting policemen, civic-minded Southerners, and former CIA Directors. Go home Ali. This is America. We've already got plenty of crap TV.

Which is a fair point. I feel much the same about some American TV. Like Friends. Why that show was ever foisted on Australian viewers is a total mystery to me. Boring. Not funny. Completely unlikable characters. I just don't get it.

But there I go again. Drifting off-topic. Back to the Red Box, and that very tasty serve of Scotch Eggs, served in a large pool of spicy tomato relish, with organic grain bread and some leafy greens on the side (good value at $11.50). My only complaint is that this was a special, and not on the regular menu. One item on the regular menu that caught my eye was chick pea hash browns. Might have to come back and give them a try. I also had a warming cup of hazelnut hot chocolate, which was good. Very respectable performance on the food front.

The venue and service are also pretty good. Red walls, red lights and timber trimmings give the place some warmth, but there was a missing X factor from the overall buzz.

14/20 "Scotch eggs"


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ludo Pesto Scrambled Eggs

If you're looking for a tasty serve of scrambled eggs to get you through a day at the office, come to Ludo, 118 Queen Street, Melbourne, Tel +61 3 9670 9488. The scrambled eggs are delicious and creamy. The bacon is crispy. And the mushrooms kick arse. Fat, juicy slices of mushy, fried in butter and sage. Possibly the best I've had. Yum.

I have it on good authority that the scrambles are made with rather a lot of cream (a la Bills), but who's complaining? And if bacon and mushies don't do it for you, try the Milawa chevre and some smoked salmon. Or chow down on classics like BLT, muesli, porridge, fruit toast and Brown's croissants (with jam or ham and cheese).

The service is friendly, efficient and always good; the venue is tasteful and intimate; and the Illy coffee consistently good. In case you can't tell, I am quite a fan of Ludo.

16/20 "best mushrooms"


Eggs & Bacon $9.30 BB100 -7%

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Il Fornaio, St Kilda

As I stared at my rather skimpy serve of scrambled eggs this morning, it occurred to me that the entire thing might have slipped into Jessica Rowe's mouth in one go. Maybe two. Jessica has a large mouth, you see. And an annoying laugh. So annoying that readers of the Sunday Feral Sun have dubbed her Australia's most annoying celebrity. Even worse than Daryl Somers. Even worse than Gretel Killeen. And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for Nine's new queen of breakfast TV, word gets out that Eddie McGuire wants to bone her.

Before you get the wrong idea, please note that "bone" apparently means sack, as in fire, terminate, etc. We're not talking about a new series of wife-swap here.

But, once again, I digress. Let me return to my skimpy plate of eggs, which was dished up this morning at Il Fornaio, 2 Acland Street, St Kilda, Tel +61 3 9534 2922. The scrambles were bland and not at all moist. The mushrooms were even more bland and boring than the eggs. We're talking the Karl Stefanovic of the mushroom world. And the soggy wad of pan-warmed bacon was similarly disappointing. About the only good thing on the plate was the toast, and yet there was only one measly slice. How cheap is that? Can someone please explain to me the logic of baking excellent bread on the premises and then short-changing your customers on toast?

Indeed, so fine is the bread, that I suggest Eddie picks up a few loaves of his way home from the footy one day. It would be perfect for the so-called shit sandwiches that Nine is apparently serving up these days. Imagine... asking someone to accept a contract worth only $400,000 a year? How could anyone swallow that?

I'm in no great hurry to go back to Il Fornaio, but if I do, I think I'll try the croque monsieur, which seems a bargain at only $5. Another good option might be the poached egg on bio-dynamic dark rye with dill mascarpone, rocket and smoked salmon. Good coffee and pastries too.

12/20 "style over substance"


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Caffe e Torta, Melbourne

The Italians may do lunch and dinner well. They can be very stylish. And they are unsurpassed when it comes to taking a dive in the penalty box. But savoury breakfasts are really not a strength, as I discovered today at Caffe e Torta, 314 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, Tel +61 3 9650 1915.

Which is not to say it was bad. The base of crunchy toast with ham, cheese and avocado was nice enough. But one of the poached (free range) eggs was hard, and they were a bit deformed looking. Not neat and round like a high-scoring egg should be. They had also sprinkled a bit of oregano here and there, giving the dish a subtle taste of Italy. Perhaps a tad overpriced at $13.50.

I overheard someone singing the praises of the grilled Turkish bread with sweet ricotta, cinnamon and honey. The avocado on toasted rye, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice also sounded like a good simple choice. And this is the first place I can recall that serves weet-bix (with honey, banana and milk).

As a venue it's got a cosy feel, with a dark timber interior, and a line of tables inside Royal Arcade from which you can observe the passing foot-traffic. Good Genovese coffee too.

Maybe I should have ordered a Campari and orange to wash down my eggs?

12/20 "dark and handsome"